My interim report for the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in England & Wales is published today (available here). This post is extracted from it.
While the reforms of the Legal Services Act 2007 have been mainly beneficial overall, that legislation might best be characterised as an incomplete step towards restructuring legal services regulation.
For reasons that are understandable, it did not fully follow through on some key elements of the regulatory structure. These include: review and reform of the reserved legal activities (those few activities that must be provided by lawyers); the known regulatory gap (as a consequence of which the non-reserved activities of lawyers are regulated, but those of non-lawyers can legally be provided but cannot be regulated – to the potential detriment of consumers); and the separation of regulation from professional representative interests.
This lack of follow-through has led to increasing challenges to the integrity of the regulatory framework as the legal sector has evolved and developed since 2007.